Australia and New Zealand risk falling behind in the global race to attract private capital investment in net zero emissions industries and infrastructure after President Biden committed the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Analysis by the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) shows the new US target is now one of the strongest emissions reduction commitments amid the G20, only slightly behind what has been adopted by the United Kingdom and European Union (EU) nations. Overnight Japan and Canada, key trading partners and allies of Australia and New Zealand, also strengthened their emissions reduction goals for the end of the decade.

Australia and New Zealand’s current 2030 goals now fall well behind this global standard for climate ambition on a range of measures. New Zealand’s Climate Change Commission is currently reviewing the nation’s end-of-decade goal, while Australia has to date refused to consider a stronger 2030 target.

The IGCC analysis below compares Australia and New Zealand’s 2030 emissions reduction targets with G20 nations. This analysis covers and finds:

  • National record on achieving past international emissions targets and current policy projections against existing 2025/30 targets: Independent analysis shows most countries have achieved their past emissions targets and are on track to achieve their 2025/2030 targets. Australia, South Korea, Mexico and the US are not yet on track to achieve the targets they committed to in 2015. Canada and Argentina are also currently off track but with new announced polices can achieve current 2030 targets. This does not assess the adequacy of targets against emissions pathways consistent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Most countries’ 2030 targets are not consistent with a fair contribution to meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
  • Commitment to updating targets in line with agreements made in Paris: In advance of COP26, countries have agreed to review and update their 2030 emissions targets and put in place a long-term strategy to achieve net zero emissions. Australia has currently not committed to updating their 2030 target in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and unlike its major trading partners has not committed to net zero emissions by mid-century.
  • Per capita emissions and the emissions intensity of the economy if 2030 target is achieved: In 2030, Australia’s per capita emissions would be the third highest among the G20 after Saudi Arabia and Russia. New Zealand would have the fifth highest per capita emissions when compared to G20 nations. The emissions intensity of the Australian economy in 2030 would be the highest among advanced G20 economies. New Zealand would sit in the middle of the pack. Emissions intensity is a proxy for the competitiveness of an economy in a carbon-constrained world. On this measure the competitiveness of Australia, and to a lesser extent New Zealand, falls well behind leaders such as the UK, EU and the US.
  • Comparison of targets vs 1990 and 2005 emissions: Australia and New Zealand’s emissions targets are weak compared with relevant G20 countries except Russia. They fall well behind the targets of the EU, UK and the US. Australia’s target is around 30 per cent lower than the average emissions reductions of its international peers.